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The great southern snowball battle

December 31, 2011
Sue Eckhoff - Grundy County Heritage Museum , Reinbeck Courier

Most focus on the Civil War is depressing to say the least. A country divided, brother against brother, shoddy medical care and huge battles with phenomenal loss of life. Some Confederate soldiers, however, found the time to stage one of the most strategically sound battles of the war. A snowball fight!

In February 1863, two back to back snowstorms provided the ammunition for a friendly snowball battle amongst rival divisions of Confederate troops near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Some of the Divisions of the army had been reorganized, which resulted in friendly rivalries between the Confederate brigades and regiments. This helped spark the huge snowball battle, in which approximately 10,000 Confederate soldiers participated. One soldier who participated in the battle described it as one of the most memorable combats of the war!

It started on the morning of February 25, 1863, when General Hoke's soldiers marched towards the camp of the Georgians with the intent of capturing the camp using only snowballs. The attacking force moved swiftly. Battle lines formed and the fight began, with severe pelting of snowballs. Reinforcements arrived from all sides to assist the brigade under attack. Even the employees of the commissary joined in the battle. Soon the attacking soldiers were pushed back. Hoke's beaten soldiers retreated back to their camp. Colonel Stiles then decided to organize his men and march directly into their camp with snowballs in hand. When Stiles forces arrived in Hoke's camp they were quite surprised to find that their adversaries had rallied, and filled their haversacks to the top with snowballs. This allowed Hoke's soldiers to provide an endless barrage of snowballs without the need to reload. The attacking force was quickly overwhelmed, and many of their soldiers were captured and "whitewashed" with snow. The snowball battle came to an end, and both brigades settled back into their respective camps. The captured prisoners were quickly paroled and returned to their camp, much to the heckling from fellow soldiers. It was noted that General Stonewall Jackson had witnessed the battle, and one soldier remarked that he had wished Jackson and his staff had joined in the fight so he could have thrown a snowball at "the old faded uniforms."

 
 

 

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